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Government watchdog calls for urgent action to tackle rural fuel poverty

The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) welcomes the recent report of the Public Accounts Committee on the operation of the Government’s Warm Front Scheme.

 
The Committee’s report recognises that many rural properties are hard to heat and to insulate but points out that nearly 75% of households helped by Warm Front are not in fuel poverty. In addition, although 28% of those in fuel poverty live in rural communities, Warm Front is only reaching 15% of rural fuel poor households.


Crispin Moor Executive Director at the CRC said: “The situation is very concerning. We fully support the Committee’s recommendation that the targeting of Warm Front is improved to reach more of those in fuel poverty.


“We are anxious to see that the review of Warm Front by the Department of Energy and

Climate Change (DECC) recognises that:
• there are particular problems and challenges of hard to heat homes in rural areas;
• there are additional fuel costs faced by many rural households, including those using LPG and domestic heating oil: and
• a high proportion of rural households are not eligible for dual-fuel discounts.

“Consequently, we are calling on DECC to introduce (statutory) social tariffs for the rural fuel poor, and to widen measures available under Warm Front to include secondary glazing (which would particularly benefit rural properties that are both hard to heat and insulate).


“We want to see by the coming winter the Warm Front scheme delivering more effectively and fairly for those in fuel poverty in our rural communities.”


On 16 September, Dr. Stuart Burgess the CRC’s Chairman and the Government’s Rural Advocate will be visiting rural Durham to see and hear for himself the challenges of addressing fuel poverty.

For further information contact Chris Wynne-Davies on 01242 534070

Notes for editors:


1 The ‘Public Accounts Committee - Thirty-Ninth Report The Warm Front Scheme’ can be found at: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmpubacc/350/35002.htm

2 Fuel poverty is when a household needs to spend more than 10 per cent of income on domestic energy use including lighting and heating their home to an adequate level of warmth.

3 Warm Front is the Government-funded initiative to help make homes warmer, healthier and more energy-efficient. Fitted correctly, solar thermal panels can provide up to 60% of a typical household’s hot water needs – providing a cost effective and environmentally preferable alternative to fuels such as oil.

4 The CRC was established in April 2005 and became an independent body on 1 October 2006, following the enactment of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act, 2006. The role of the CRC is to provide well-informed, independent advice to Government and ensure that policies reflect the real needs and circumstances of people living and working in rural England. We give particular focus to tackling disadvantage and economic under-performance.

We have three key functions:
• advocate: the voice for rural people, business and communities;
• expert adviser: providing evidence-based, objective advice to Government and others; and
• independent watchdog: monitoring and reporting on the delivery of policies nationally, regionally and locally.

Further information about the CRC and its work can be found at: www.ruralcommunities.gov.uk

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